MADISONVILLE, Ky. (7/22/14) — Rick Snodgrass, new principal of Hopkins County Central High School, began his official appointment July 1 following five years as assistant principal at HCCHS and 13 years prior to that as a teacher and head football coach.
“I've been with this school since its conception. Before that, I was head coach at South Hopkins High School since 1988,” Snodgrass said.
As Snodgrass begins the year, his priority is keeping with the momentum of recent improvements within the school.
“We've made great strides over the past couple of years,” Snodgrass said. “We want to continue making those strides, challenging our kids, getting our kids college and career-ready for graduation and meeting and exceeding benchmarks in the assessment areas.”
Snodgrass believes the school has developed a positive climate and culture over the past few years.
“When we were identified three years ago as a PLA school, the faculty took it personally as well as did our student body. That's why we've been able to make this kind of turnaround,” Snodgrass said. “Our students have pride again in our school. They're proud of what we have accomplished.”
PLA is a designation meaning the school is persistently low achieving.
“We don't like to use that term, but it's what we were identified as three years ago,” Snodgrass said. “Of course, last year, we were in the top 4 percent of all high schools in the state of Kentucky and a distinguished score, so we've made a huge turnaround. Our focus is to continue that. We set the bar extremely high, and we want to maintain that high standard.”
Snodgrass believes a system of rewards provides incentive for the students to do well.
“Students know the expectations, and we've set up a reward system because of some of the accomplishments that they've done,” Snodgrass said. “They've got some more freedom. They can use their cell phones before school, during the cafeteria at lunch, so we've given them some incentives and some reward-type things, and we just want to make sure that they are aware that's going to continue. We're going to continue with what we've done and hope that they can continue to achieve and excel and do those things in the classroom that they've done.”
Snodgrass views students as a resource to cultivate that will directly benefit the region.
“We want to be there for the community. We want our kids to graduate from Hopkins County Central and be successful in society, be contributing members of the community,” Snodgrass said. “Whether they choose to further their education or go directly into the workforce, we want to put out a quality product that's going to benefit all of Hopkins County, and try to improve the quality of life in this county.”
Snodgrass wishes to see greater involvement in the school from parents and the community.
“We would love to see our parents involved in our students' education,” Snodgrass said. “Get involved in the school. Get involved in what's going on here. We have an open door policy. We want our parents to feel like they can come in not only in athletic endeavors, athletic events and extra-curricular activities, but to get involved in the whole school process. We are trying to improve our PTSA. We want to get our parents involved in that process and try to get more buy-in from the community and the parents into the daily process of school and their individual student's education.”
Certain scheduled events throughout the year open the door for parental involvement.
“Our PTSA has improved over the last few years. We would love to see parents coming to any parent night activities, registration activities, which we have those things coming up in late July. We want them involved in parent-teacher conferences as much as possible. We want to be able to make that connection with that parent.”
According to Snodgrass, parents need not dread contact from the school.
“We're letting those parents know some of the good things that their kids are doing in the classroom,” Snodgrass said. “We don't want our contact just to be because of something negative. We want to let them know when kids are achieving and doing good, positive things in the classroom.”
Though he has seen significant improvement, the school is not yet where Snodgrass wants it to be.
“We don't want to settle. We have come a long way, but we're not where we want to be yet. There are still things that we want to continue to improve on. The bar is set awfully high,” he said.
His years of coaching manifest in Snodgrass' competitive spirit.
“We want to be the best school in every phase of the school building,” he said. “We want to be academically strong. We want to be a benchmark for the schools in the western part of the state academically and extra-curricular-wise and be a total school. The climate and culture here is what we want to model. We want to set the example.”
Other lessons from his time as head football coach linger with Snodgrass, he said.
“I rely on my experiences in coaching. That's what I did for 25 years, so that's part of what and who I am,” said Snodgrass. “I rely on a lot of those lessons learned through that to help me in making decisions and working with parents, working with the faculty, working with students and building relationships with those people.”
In the end, it's all about engaging students as people for Snodgrass.
“Every kid is motivated a little differently, so you have to meet them where they're at, and try to find what motivates them. Making connections with those kids in the hallway — knowing their names, knowing what they're involved in, knowing who they are,” he said. “It could even be knowing some of their problems so you can better connect and understand that we're here as people, and we're trying to make them good people along with good students.”
SurfKY News Reporter
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